Aretha Franklin – Gritty Sound or Smeary Sound? You’re Gonna Have to Pick One

More of the Music of Aretha Franklin

We pulled together enough clean copies for a big shootout years ago and most of them sounded the way you’d expect — thin, bright, and grainy. The best copies did a much better job of communicating the music, giving you the kind of life and energy this music needs to work its magic.   

. There’s a touch of grit and grain at times, but that’s unavoidable unless you get a smeary later pressing that robs the instruments and vocals of their texture. I couldn’t stand to listen to a copy like that — I’ve heard plenty — so I’ll take the grit and the grain with my ’60s soul and call it a day. 

Tons of great material on here, including Aretha’s fun version of the Stones’ Satisfaction and the rockin’ classic 96 Tears.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction 
You Are My Sunshine 
Never Let Me Go 
96 Tears 
Prove It 
Night Life

Side Two

That’s Life 
I Wonder 
Ain’t Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around) 
Going Down Slow 
Baby I Love You

AMG Review

Recorded in 1967 after the first flush of back-to-back successes with “Respect” and “I Never Loved a Man,” this captures Aretha Franklin in peak form. Lady Soul provides her own piano accompaniment on the majority of tracks here, and the core band is the same one that provided the fire on her previous album. The tunes are an eclectic batch, and while “Baby, I Love You” was the hit of the album, Franklin turns in strong versions of “Satisfaction,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Night Life,” “Ain’t Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around),” and a quirky cover of “96 Tears” for good measure. An essential addition to her discography.